After years of pax vinum in the Uptown area, 2011 brought a rush of efforts to add a liquor store along Hennepin Avenue. This site has followed the issue over the past months, from its controversial beginning to convoluted climax, with three different proposals submitted to the City (reported first by City of Lakes Urbanism).
Yesterday, the City Planning Commission approved a “wine shop” expansion at Kowalski’s Market, located at 2440 Hennepin Avenue. The site plan (PDF) shows a small addition in place of the store’s current patio seating area, which would be moved slightly to the southeast. In terms of what the expansion offers consumers, an employee told me that in addition to wine, the new space would sell “high-end beer.” (He looked horrified, but that’s what you get for asking a minor.)
Due to the City’s liquor store spacing rules, this approval should be the nail in the coffin for any other proposals along Hennepin Avenue in the Uptown area. The Planning Commission denied a permit for a competing project at 2700 Hennepin Avenue, noting that the applicant, Abdo Market House LLC, could not demonstrate legal control over the site, which apparently is now bank-owned. What this ownership situation means for the property (currently a closed gas station) remains unclear.
With this minor competition resolved fairly uncontroversially, Uptown residents and watchers will surely be lying in wait for the next chance to engage in adversarial, heated debates about land use and zoning issues. 2011 has been a comparatively quiet year for those who thrive on ugly public processes (at least in this part of the city), but three months remain. Somewhere out there, a 13-story hotel/night club with a rooftop patio and no on-site parking sits on the drawing board.
One can dream, right?